What is the greatest thing you can do to encourage your pastor?
As a Christian that is a good question to ask yourself. If you are a member of a local church your pastor is entrusted by God with the care of your soul. That is his duty. In turn, however, you also have a duty. Your duty is to let him fulfill his duty "with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” ( Hebrews 13:17). So again what is the greatest thing you can do to enable him to fulfill his duty with joy? What is the greatest thing you can do to encourage your pastor?
Although “pray for him” might be running through your head right now don’t let it escape your lips just yet.
There once was a group of churches the Apostle Paul planted in what is now Turkey. They started well but soon after his departure things turned. The believers took a different direction to that Paul had set and when he heard the news it broke him so badly he likened the anguish he felt to giving birth (Galatians 4:19). He was “groaning" over the Galatians. If you think of Paul as their pastor, the Galatians had failed to discharge their duty of letting him fulfill his duty “with joy and not with groaning."
So what was the bad news Paul heard? What did Galatians do that discouraged Paul so much the pain he felt was like the pangs of childbirth?
The bad news Paul heard was not that the Galatians stopped praying for him. In fact, the bad news Paul heard was not that they had stopped doing anything.
The bad news Paul heard was that they stopped believing the good news.
Paul heard that the Galatians let themselves be drawn away from the gospel and it grieved him (Galatians 1:6). Like any good pastor, it vexed and frustrated him to see God’s sheep led astray on something so vital and yet so simple. Vital because getting the gospel right is the difference between heaven and hell (Galatians 5:4). Yet so simple because the gospel is easy to get right. You only call ordinary folk foolish for getting wrong what is easy to get right – the fact Paul calls the ordinary Galatian believers foolish for getting the gospel wrong means it is easy to get right (Galatians 3:1).
The greatest thing you can do to encourage your pastor is not to pray for him – as wonderful as that is. The greatest thing you can do to encourage your pastor and fulfill your duty of letting him fulfill his “with joy and not with groaning" is to hold firm to the vital and simple gospel. The greatest thing you can do to encourage your pastor is to have a clear understanding that you are fully, finally, and forever justified by faith alone in Christ alone apart from your works (Galatians 2:16). The greatest thing you can to encourage your pastor is to not let yourself be led astray by anyone who denies, undermines, or obscures any part of that vital and simple gospel (Galatians 1:9-10). In other words, the greatest thing you can do to encourage your pastor is to not be like the Galatians. If he's anything like the Apostles, that’ll give him joy like nothing else – as John, Paul’s fellow Apostle, said, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" (3 John 4).